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‘Gilmore Girls’ and Me

The seven-season series Gilmore Girls and its four afterglow episodes, A Year in the Life, have inspired me, as a woman of a certain age, to consider spending “my pension on brandy and summer gloves*.”

Why do I feel obliged to watch these reruns mercifully offered on Netflix enough times to rival the number of twinkle lights wrapped around every pole, tree, building, newspaper stand, and the town square gazebo in the small fictional Connecticut town of Stars Hollow along with the extravagant over-the-top pumpkin and gold leaf decorations saturating the town in autumn?

Irreverent elegance, spirited defiance, and the flouting of civilized behaviors stick to me like white rice to the bottom of a pot with every rewatched episode. 

These are women who age gracefully but never grow old. And they both look good wearing a lipstick called Vicious Trollop.

I admire Lorelei, and I want to be Emily when I grow up. 

Lorelai Gilmore, lovely single mom to a 16-year-old daughter, is in her 30s throughout the seven-year run of the original series. Eccentric, independent, and sassy, with a penchant for Jimmy Choos and red vine candy, Lorelai is someone who women of any age would love to emulate. She runs a charming inn. Check. She hates exercise. Check. She’s not a fan of salad. Check.


 Lorelai is someone who women of any age would love to emulate. She runs a charming inn. She hates exercise. She’s not a fan of salad.


What are the odds of a mother warbling the sappy theme songfrom the movie Beaches — “You are the wind beneath my wings” — to her teenage daughter like Lorelai does after two teenage boys have a knock-down, drag-out fight over the daughter that had to be broken up by the police? Anybody?

Within the final Year in the Life episode that occurred nine years after the original series ended, Lorelai is happily with the same man, Luke. It is by her choice that they are not married. Her inn is struggling and a beloved employee is leaving. She is in a rut. A work rut. A life rut. Has that ever happened to any of us when we’re in our 40s? (Communal nod acknowledged.) Maybe we get a new hairstyle; hunt up a new gluten-free, low-fat, vegan recipe; or move the couch to the other wall. Exciting stuff.

So what does Lorelai do in response to her rut? She decides she needs a change. So she challenges herself to do Wild (the book). Yes, Lorelai, who despises any outdoors beyond her porch, decides she will hike the 2,650-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to find herself. After buying a backpack that likely outweighs her, hiking boots, and unfood-like substances in tubes, she flies out to the West Coast and, although she doesn’t hike the trail, in her pursuit of this goal, Lorelai discovers answers to her life questions. 

No couch shifts. No new hairstyle. No new recipe (she doesn’t cook anyway). Check.

Just flying by the seat of her pants out of her comfort zone. 

For decades within the original series, 60-something Emily, high-society mother of  Lorelai, served as chair of fundraising committees for orchestras, ballets, hospitals, libraries, endangered animals, and hundreds of causes du jour. Her entire existence revolved around coordinating her social calendar and that of husband, Richard, hiring and firing household staff — her record of firing maids likely held at two per day — and contributing to the economy with copious sumptuous purchases. Emily’s status as darling of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) was without a doubt one of her more cherished accomplishments. 

Skip to nine years later in an A Year in The Life segment when now 74-year-old Emily sits on a DAR membership board. Emily and her stately DAR darlings are interviewing a bimbo-esque trophy wife for potential admittance to the group. They all know it will never happen, but because the interviewee is the third wife of a prestigious member of their social circle, “Barbie” is interviewed. Emily ambles over to a table and noisily rifles through a box of cookies, choosing one that suits her as the board ladies continue their pointless interview. In what might be the most extraordinary and illuminating words spoken by the character Emily throughout her tenure as a matriarch of society and the DAR, she proclaims with dismissive eloquence that could only be delivered by a woman of a certain age: “Bullshit!” Emily has had enough of the affectations of the DAR and everything involved in it. It is all “bullshit.” Thus this classy broad meanders out of the room, leaving all with their mouths agape.

“Bullshit’” is a good word, and I am inclined to use it more often, thanks to Emily Gilmore.


It’s hard to regroup after such losses. We will probably have like experiences. Possibly react as Emily did.


Since her husband’s recent death, Emily has struggled to reinvent herself. Her marriage to Richard and place in society defined her. Now she has lost one and dismissed the other. When Lorelai visits her mother one afternoon she finds Emily throwing out her precious belongings. A friend had recommended The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as a way of decluttering her house of any and everything that doesn’t bring her joy before selling it, including prized art work, antique furniture, designer fashions, and more. After Lorelai points out that her mother may regret throwing out her furniture, clothing, and art, Emily discovers this is not the way to reinvent her life. 

It’s hard to regroup after such losses. We will probably have like experiences. Possibly react as Emily did. 

But Emily does sell her house. She takes on a gentleman friend (much to her daughter’s chagrin) who does not replace Richard but simply provides her with the companionship of a man of a certain age. She buys a small cottage on Nantucket Island that might well have fit into the living room of the mansion she sold.

And she lives in her cottage. Sits on a yard swing overlooking the stars and ocean with a glass of wine at night, bundled up under a blanket. 

Smiling. 

Possibly contemplating how she will spend her pension on brandy and summer gloves.

A Gilmore Girls aficionado, Kim Delmar Cory delights in reading books, eating junk food (birthday Mallomars included), and twinkle lights around every corner.

*From the poem “Warning,” by Jennifer Joseph
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

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